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LFC ‘will not be Henry’s priority’

Wall-to-wall sponsorship at Anfield and ticket prices may rocket, warns Boston Globe man

Published on November 8th 2010.


LFC ‘will not be Henry’s priority’

LIVERPOOL Football Club is likely to be a “side venture” for new owner John Henry, with his Boston Red Sox baseball team remaining the priority.

And fans may have to pay at least double for the price of a ticket if Henry decides to replicate his Boston Red Sox business model where tickets rose by 200 percent after he took the reins of the ailing side.

That’s the view of Boston Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan, who said that the purchase of the Anfield club drew several similar parallels to Henry’s 2002 buy-out of the Red Sox.

“You have to wonder where his attention will lie. Red Sox and baseball should remain his first love – Liverpool will probably be viewed as a side project,” Sullivan told Liverpool Confidential. “He’ll want it to be profitable and successful and will probably hire some people to take care of it for him.

“He says he’ll be frugal but he’s more likely to be shrewd. In Boston, he spent wisely on some veterans and brought them success.”

But he warned that it could be the fans who will ultimately have to dig deep into their pockets to boost the Reds' coffers, mirroring the Boston model where prices have continued to rise, despite the down economy.

“I think the fans may have to be prepared to pay to be part of it,” said Sullivan. “It’s exorbitant to watch a game here – the top price is around $150 (£95) a ticket. I expect Liverpool fans may have to pay more.”

Sullivan also said that Henry could try to attract more commercial partners in and around the club and the stadium – including a corporate sponsor for Anfield.

“It’s never been on the table at the Red Sox stadium, but he’s tried to leverage everything out of that ground,” he said. “He’s beefed up the commercial side at the Red Sox though and every inch of the stadium has advertising on it. He’s turned it into a marketing machine. A stadium allows you to capitalise on tradition.

Sullivan said there were strong rumours in the US that Henry was set to appoint a British advisor to see the day-to-day running at Liverpool and that he was a “patient” owner, and preferred to remain hands-off when it came to team affairs.

“He likes to stay well-informed and he’ll be there or thereabouts, even if he’s not in the front row,” he said. “But he’s not one to jump into the media to criticise the manager.”

Henry’s New England Sports Ventures, which bought the club for £300m from former owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks last week, is 16.5 per cent owned by the publishers of the New York Times.

Joe Mahan, assistant professor of sport marketing at the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, a Red Sox and Liverpool FC fan, wrote on a blog on the New York Times website this week that there was a “harmonic convergence” between the two clubs and that the first eight years of Henry’s reign in Boston displayed “a near-perfect combination of business acumen, public relations savvy and on-field success”.

“Not only has he delivered (championships) —twice— but he and his group have done it the right way,” he said. ‘The Red Sox spend a lot of money on players, sure, but they protect that investment by bringing in people who know the sport to oversee operations. Hicks and Gillett brought on debt to support their pronouncements at Liverpool.’

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Ain't seen nothing yetOctober 20th 2010.

I already can't afford to go to Anfield, but it makes economic sense from their point of view for the fans to pay. A bit like the poll tax really, but with sponsorship.

MUFCOctober 21st 2010.

Break in, or mug a ticket holder!

The GalazersOctober 24th 2010.

MUFC, I suppose coming from "Shamless land" you would know all about "Breaking in" and "Mugging" you tramp.

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